Anabaptists have long been known as a “people of the Word.” If we accept that title, what does it mean for us in the twenty-first century? How do we read, understand, and live the “Word” today? Since everyone who reads and uses scripture engages in interpretation, we need to be aware of the processes we use and the influences that bear upon them.
In Stony the Road, edited by Cain Hope Felder, Renita J. Weems writes,
…the experience of oppression brought African American women to understand that outlook plays an important role in how one reads the Bible-it became clear that it is not just a matter of whose reading is “accurate,” but whose reading is legitimated. …
…the Bible can and has been used, in the name of supposed authority, to sanction the subjugation and enslavement of people or to instigate insurrection and buttress liberation efforts of oppressed people. Indeed, the seemingly mercurial dexterity of Bible interpreters has had dire implications for both African Americans and women. (p. 63) [My editorial comment would be to add sexual minorities to recipients of dire implications.]
Walter S. Friesen, in his essay “My Witness about Biblical Faith and Homosexuality” uses a Gospel passage, an Acts passage, and one from Paul’s writings to demonstrate a Christological method for interpretation. He then proceeds to examine each of the so-called “homosexuality texts” in the Old and the New Testaments. Following this Biblical study, Walter reflects on the meaning of a “glorious church, without spot or wrinkle.” Walter senses that most of us have some uncertainty about “homosexuality.” He therefore perceives that we face one of two risks; he states his choice, and presents his reasons for making that choice.
Ted Grimsrud focuses his study on the Gospels as he seeks to answer the question “What Did Jesus Do?” He notes that if we focus only on Jesus’ words, we will find no directives to guide our search for faithfulness in relating to sexual minority persons. However, Ted finds rich resources to deal with this topic when we observe and reflect on how Jesus lived and related to people as recorded by the Gospel writers. As we seek to deal with this topic (and with all aspects of life) in accordance with God’s will, may we each discover rich resources through our study and reflection on the life of Jesus.